It is estimated that from 2011 about 2,700 refugee children have ended up in Greece without their parents, either having lost them or having been separated from them. The non governmental organization Metadrasi has been helping these children by escorting them to children’s centers mostly in Athens.
Metadrasi’s president Lora Pappa, noted that the number of unsupervised children arriving in Greece is increasing day by day, due to the large amount of incoming refugees. As a result of this increase, the number of underage children who have been led to these children’s centers in the last 2 months is estimated at about 450, while in the past years Metadrasi escorted only about 40-50 children each month.
According to Pappa these numbers are nowhere close to the actual amount of underage unsupervised children who end up in Greece without their families. In some cases, it is difficult to prove that they are indeed underage, since they have no papers and declare themselves as adults. In these cases further medical examination is needed.
“The youngest child we have ever escorted was 10 months old. In this entire group of underage children the most vulnerable in the hands of smugglers are those under 12 years old” says Pappa.
The children’s centers are a good and safe solution for these refugee children. The best option of course, would be to reunite them with their families, but since this is something that takes time, the organization is planning to start a foster system where these children can stay with families who speak the same language as them and have the same culture.